Employment of Foreign Nationals
- Issue Date: June 1, 1994
- Primary Contact: Director of Human Resources
- Responsible Member of Directorate: President and Director
- Responsible Office: Human Resources
OverviewI. Hiring Foreign
A. In order to comply
with state and Federal regulations regarding the employment of
non-United States citizens it is important
to determine that each foreign national employed at the Institution
has a visa which permits employment or has been
granted permission to work by the United States Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS). Visas must be obtained
by the prospective candidates for employment before they enter
the United States. Departments should be aware of time delays
in processing paperwork through the INS, and plan accordingly.
Federal law prohibits the hiring or employment
of illegal aliens. Any employer who violates this law is subject
to a fine.
B. Forms, applications,
and additional information regarding visas for foreign nationals
can be obtained from the Human Resources
Representative. The International Students' Advisor in the Office
of the Dean for Student Affairs, Room 3-107,
M.I.T. offers similar services for admission of foreign students.
II. Visa Categories:
A. Non-Immigrant Visas.
The non-immigrant visas most frequently obtained by the Institution's
foreign national visitors are:
1. J-1 Exchange
2. F-1 and J-1 Student
Visas with Practical Training
- A J-1 visa is issued to a participant in
an exchange Visitor Program approved by the U.S. Information
Agency, intended to foster international exchange in the arts
and sciences. Participants can be in one of a variety of categories,
including research scholar or short-term scholar.
- The maximum stay permitted is three years,
normally in one-year increments. J-1 visa holders may be supported
by the Institution, by their own government, by an international
organization or by other sources.
- To obtain a J-1 visa from an American Consulate
or Embassy, the foreign national needs an IAP-66 form from
the Institution. These IAP-66 forms are completed by the Human
Resources Representative at the request of the hiring/sponsoring
- In general, some J-1 holders are subject
to a two-year foreign residence requirement, requiring them
to return home following the expiration of the J-1. It is
possible to petition for another immigrant status within the
United States, although there is no guarantee that the petition
will be approved.
- Exchange visitors are required to have medical
insurance in effect for themselves and any accompanying spouses
and dependents on "J" Visas.
3. H-1B Temporary Worker
of Distinguished Merit and Ability
- Student visas can be issued to individuals
who have been accepted for full-time study by a U.S. institution
of learning. Once a foreign student has completed all course
requirements toward that degree, he/she is eligible to apply
for a period of "practical training". To do so, an Employment
Authorization Document (EAD) should be obtained from the INS
via the student's college or university. The F-1 student is
eligible for a maximum of 12 months of practical training;
the J-1 student is eligible for a maximum of 18 months of
- Both F-1 and J-1students may apply for practical
training 90 days in advance of receiving their degrees through
the foreign student office at the university where their degree
is to be granted. The foreign student office then submits
the application to the INS for approval. Most Immigration
offices have considerable backlogs and the response to an
approval of this type of application may be considerably delayed.
Departments, therefore, should make every effort to urge prospective
employees to apply for this permission at least 60 days in
advance of the proposed date of employment.
B. Permission to Work
- An H-1B visa is a temporary work permit and
is issued to those eligible professionals distinguished in
their fields who come to the United States as bona fide employees.
Institution sponsorship for this visa status is generally
limited to supporting scientific and technical staff positions,
on a temporary basis.
- To obtain H-1 visa status, an application
is submitted by the Institution and approved by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service. The application, which is submitted
by the Human Resources Administrator includes a petition form,
an endorsement letter from the Institution, original documents
indicating the visitor's highest degree, a curriculum vitae,
and a filing fee payable to the Institution's Immigration
Attorney. A Labor Condition Attestation must be filed by the
Institution and approved by the Department of Labor before
an H-1B visa petition may be filed with the INS.
- Since there are delays in processing these
applications, allow at least three to four months before the
individual intends to arrive in the United States. When the
petition has been approved, notice is sent by INS to the American
Consulate or Embassy where the visitor will apply for the
visa to the Institution.
- Permission to remain in the United States
on an H-1 visa is limited to a six year total. The H-1 is
usually approved for an initial period of three years and
can be extended for an addition three years.
is a brief guide regarding other non-immigrant visas and whether
individuals holding them are authorized to
2.In some cases, a
foreign national may change from a visa which does not permit employment
to one which does, or vice versa. Questions
regarding such changes should be discussed with the Human Resources
- F-2 = Spouse or dependents of an F-1 student
- No employment permitted
- J-2 = Exchange Visitor spouse or dependents
- Employment permitted if INS issues an EAD
- H-4= Spouse or dependents of H-1, H-2, H-3
- No employment permitted
C. Immigrant Visas (Permanent
are able to immigrate on the basis of their relationship to a
United States citizen or a permanent resident.
Others wish to immigrate on the basis of their employment at the
Institution. The Institution handles only
those applications to immigrate which are based on employment
at the Institution.
policy guidelines are in accordance with regulations set down
by the Immigration and Naturalization Service
and pertain to permanent residency petitions for foreign nationals
employed by the Institution.
3.The length of time
required for immigrant visa applications to be approved varies from
case to case; the total
- It is the Institution's position that
the INS criteria of eligibility is most appropriately defended
at the Scientific Staff level. Scientific Staff seeking Institution
sponsorship of permanent residency petitions should make their
requests known through, and with the endorsement of, their
Department Chairs to the Director of Research. The document
process for permanent residency submission normally takes
more than the initial appointment year and will include the
first year performance evaluation.
- The Institution will provide financial, administrative
and legal assistance in support of the petition. Institution
employees, particularly those with hiring authority, are reminded
that the petitioner of the permanent residency petition is
the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
- It is Institution policy to not sponsor permanent
residency petitions for members of the Technical, Administrative
and Graded Staff unless there are special circumstances surrounding
a particular employee.
length of time can be from 12 to
III. After Arrival at WHOI
A. Once the foreign national
has arrived at the Institution it is important to determine that
all necessary documents to
remain and work in the United States are in order.
Non-immigrants are to present a passport, visa, and I-94 form
(arrival - departure record) at the Human Resources Office. A
record is made of the expiration date on each of the above and
information useful to new arrivals regarding the Institution and
Immigration Service procedures is explained. A copy of the I-94
form is retained in the Human Resources Office in the individual's
B. Immigrants are to
present a "green card", form I-151 or I-551, to the Human Resources
Office. This is the
registration form for those who were admitted to
the United States as immigrants while in the United States.
C. The salaries of all
foreign nationals employed by the Institution, with the exception
of those holding F-1 and J-1
visas, are subject to F.I.C.A. (Social Security)
tax. Those employees receiving taxable and/or reportable income
provide the Institution with a social security number,
which should be obtained from the local Social Security
D. Foreign nationals
are advised that they may be eligible for exemption from income
tax withholding based on a
reciprocal tax treaty between their country and
the United States. Individuals are referred to the Payroll Office
determine if their particular type of employment
is eligible for such an exemption.
you require assistance in the interpretation of this procedure,
please contact your Human Resources Representative.
Last updated: May 7, 2008